| 1950 - 1960 | 1960 - 1970 | 1970 - 1980 | 1980 - 1990 | 1990 - 2000 | 2000 - 2010 |

The Life Story of U.S. Hemp

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The Story Starts Here

This is an introduction to a series of books about the life and times of Ulysses Samuel Hemp. The wheels start spinning in 1950 and roll from a Tennessee tobacco farm to the Marijuana Trails of Central and South America. U.S. Hemp visited worlds with customs and languages that he translates from first hand experience and an abstract sense of observation. The land behind the old Ford is the farm Sam grew up on. The man in front of the old Ford was Sam’s grand pa. Sam was always appreciative to have been lucky enough to be raised by this man on this land. Sam never wanted more than to be left alone to sing pray and farm this land with his family.

Pa Duffy’s ancient and secret association with the Free Mason’s went with Sam like a guardian angel. He was afforded refuge, assistance and the benefit of the doubt at the darkest times. The sense of right and wrong combined with the survival skills he acquired from his teacher and friend, Pa Duffy, accompanied him through life.

1950 to 1960

Hill Music

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Sam was a result of Scottish tobacco immigrants and the indigenous owners of the tobacco fields that produced this powerful and expensive herb. Tobacco was a highly valued medicine exclusive to his region of the world.

Tobacco farms were peacefully given as dowries to the immigrating Scottish farmers. They settled down with the local women and began a new life in the herb rich hills west of the Atlantic. Sam’s maternal side of the family was called Indians because Columbus got lost and thought he had discovered India. The name stuck the flag didn’t. Sam was raised in a mixture of Scottish/Indian religion, language and culture. The contrast of these ancient peoples mixing their words, melodies, medicines, magic and blood has been denied and unwritten because of the "unspoken racism". “Sam’s Native American Mothers” wrote the laws and hummed the tunes that everybody danced to. They made the medicine and magic in this matriarchal society.

Sam needed extra protection because of a secret they held. He had to be kissed on the lips by a man that had never seen his own father. This had to be done soon after birth. The hunt was on.


Smokehouse tells of Sam’s first recollections of his family butchering their hogs and putting them in the smokehouse on his great grandfathers farm. Sam’s vivid first memories of his childhood start the blood pumping in the heart of this story early as he describes this ancient family ritual.

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Sam and Cousin Fred were raised together like brothers in the hills. They both became unique musician with an incredible history. Sam and cousin Fred’s adventures span 5 decades from the barnyard chicken coups to the high dollar cockfighting pits of Mexico. There were no dull moments.

Sam Sang Bass:

Sam had 3 things going on in his life: chores, church and music. Sam’s grand-pa sang bass in some respectable gospel quartets and he had Sam singing bass and cousin Fred singing tenor in a child quartet and performing at age 6. This chapter mostly deals with Sam’s musical and religious roots from 1950 to 1960.

Going to Mexico:

This chapter deals more with the farm, Sam’s sense of adventure and his relationship with animals and love for tilling the soil. Sam and his cousin Freddie lived this natural 1950’s Huck Fin and Tom Sawyer life that people dream about. It is important to recall the good and simple things from those days. There is a literal flood of action as Sam and cousin Fred try to float to Mexico on a homemade raft via Trammel; the small creek that cut through the valley of their ancestors. The excitement starts as they load a crudely made log raft with an old guitar, 4 cans of Vienna sausages and a box of saltine crackers and Ole Shep and Leroy the dogs. This chapter starts with Ole Shep falling in the creek during the spring rains. Trammel creek was just waking up from its winter nap when Sam and Freddie pried the heavy raft into the rising current. These early stories are very telling about what made U.S. Hemp tick later on in life.

Left-Handed Boy in a White Man’s World:

This chapter brings us to the source of Sam’s religion. Sam’s views on racism, sexism, capitalism, communism and cynicism all started in the Southern Missionary Baptist Church of Salome. It also deals with the actual dilemmas of being left-handed in a right-handed world controlled by white men. Sam is left-handed but he played his guitars strung normally for right-handed musicians. Hendrix and Paul McCartney are left-handed but they turned their strings and guitars upside down to play them. Sam said that the guitar was actually a left-handed instrument. There is a good deal of guitar talk that would be of interest to any musicians that wonder what side of the brain the music is pouring out. Sam goes through the history of the guitars he has played and owned as well as a lot of practical information about guitars, guitar players and their girlfriends.

Decoration Day:

Decoration day is a ritual in the Tennessee hills where the graves are decorated with flowers and the dead are remembered. Families come out and spend the day visiting with each other, eating and talking about their loved ones. They pass down the old stories that bind them all together as families and as a community. The doors are open to all that have family resting there and even republicans were welcome to eat with them on Decoration Day.

Sam’s recollection of the long tables covered in fine hand made tablecloths and piles of the finest foods the south had to offer are mouth watering. Sam said: there is nothing more satisfying than judging the competition between southern women in the kitchen. This chapter will have some family recipes and Sam’s grandmothers’ secret weapons in the farm kitchen.

December 9th 2007 Aunt Lallie Mae Cates died. She was Sam’s mother’s first cousin and like a mother to Sam. She was the undisputed queen of the kitchen on both sides of Trammel creek. She will be deeply missed, sorrowfully mourned and honorably mentioned in the Life Story of U.S. Hemp. Her “Angel Biscuits” delightfully defied gravity.

The 1952 Fender Telecaster:

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The 1952 Fender Telecaster in the photo is the first electric guitar Sam ever looked at, touched, picked up or played. When Sam was 5 years old he played this guitar.

He had to set down in the big green vinyl living room chair at his uncle Eugene's house in Nashville, Tennessee. Sam's would play until his body would ache from holding it up. Later Sam's cousin Fred took this Tele on the road with David Allen Coe for several years. Sam recorded with this guitar later in Nashville and in Austin Texas. This particular 1952 Telecaster is one of Sam's all time favorite guitars. Sam’s uncle Eugene bought it in 1953 for $125.00 in Nashville.

U.S. Hemp has recorded a great deal of music with this particular guitar and we will be mixing down some of this vintage electric music and publishing it shortly.

The red Gibson was a 345 Stereo with a twang bar. That was considered a Rock and Roll Cadillac and this is the same model as Lucille (B.B. King's Guitar). This particular guitar never sounded good and had a boring neck (it was a red lemon).

Sam always said that when you find that perfect 1959 Les Paul that looks like it was barely played there was a reason why. Sam’s stories have a lot of interesting and practical guitar player information. Join the forum.

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